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3 1833 01783 1444


Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center








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Capture of the Marg-aretta. By Georg-e F. Talbot. . . . i

John Jolmstou Cfft-iuthers, D.n. By Kev. Ejiliraiju C. Cummiiigs, 10 '
The Voice of Maine as hoard in tlie Goiiosi-; of our Xati()i!:ilitv.

By George F. Emery, . . . . . . 51

Proceedings, May 2.1, ISSo, ...... So- f

Description of the Society-' s Seal, ..... 83

Testimonials to Hon. Israel Wasliburn, . . . . SG i.

Letters of Joseph }Vheaton, one of the Heroes of the Margaretta. lO'J^

Historical Keviow of Literature in Elaine. By Joseph William.son, llo'

Bruiisv.-irk ConvLution of 181<j. By William Allen, . . 129-

Ca]>tain Bartholomew Gosnold's Voyage, .... M:i v-

Letters from Geneial I'eleg V\'ausworth to AVilliam D. "Williamson,

ISl.i. ... . . . ' i5;i.'

James Loring Child. By James W. Bradl»iiry, . . , 1(5;^ ■-

Proceedings. 18S.3, 1SS4, ISS-"), . . . . , . ic^-j

Persons taxed in North Parish of Kittery. 178:!, . . . 21S

Resident Members, ....... 215'

Captain Herrick's Joxirnal. 17-57, ..... 2]9-

Waymouth's Voyage to the Coast of Maine, IGO."). By Henry S.

Burrage, d.d. . . . . . . _ 22o "^

Traces of tiie Northmen. By Joseph \Villiamson, . . 2,7,1 n

The Beginnings of Maine. By James P. Baxter. . . . 07V.

Memoir of Judge David .Sewall. By Edwaul P. Bnrn.ham. . ,SOi •

The .Se-\vall Family of New England. By IJufus K. .Sew;di, . ;:Jm(J ►
Biographical Data and Letters of the Hun. David .Sewall of York.

By Frftnk Sewall, . . . . . . . 3(19 "

The Division of the 12,000 Acres among the Pattentees at Agamen-

ticus. By William M. .Sargent, . . . . .31!;"

Proceedings. ISS-o, 1880, ...... 328

An Interesting Historical Document, ..... 33v>

A Moravian Colony in Maine, ..... ;i"!3''

Biographical Data of David Sewall. By Bufus K. Sewal!, . . 33i ^

Joan Applotou. By George F. Emery, . . . • 3^,7 >•

A Lost Manuscj-ipt. By Jamos P. Baxter, .... 34f> '''

William Allen. By Cliarles F. Allen, h.d., . . . 377-'
Biuiiograi hie Memorandum of the Laws of Maine. By Josiah XL

Drummond, . ^ . . ' . . ;J9J 1^
Sir John Moore at Castine during the Revohuion. By Josej.h

Williamson, ....... .ju3 '


ExlTP.ots from Mio Letters of tho Jesuit Missionary iu Maine,
Fatlier P. P.iaid, li!12-l(",i't;. Translateil by Professor Fred.
M. Wnrren. Introduetion by .b>hn Marshall Drown, . 4ir

Proceedings. lS8'j, ........ 429

Order given at Foit Cliarles at Pcmaiiuid. IGIS. . . 4tw

Tlie Frye Family. Comnninieated by "WilHara B. Lapham. . 43.j.

Commissioners "Proceedings at Mount Desert, ISOS. Communi-
cated by William B. Lapham, ..... 4;;9



John Joluiaton Canutliei-8. d.d. . . . . . 1




Head he/ore the JSIaine Historical Societi/. June 10, 1SS7.


The Britisli attempt to ap])ly luilitaiy coercion to
the American colonies aroused a feelino- of resistance
at MacliiaSj just as it did at Lexington, Concord and
Bunker Hill. The people of Machias of 1775, were
Yankees of the Yankees. They belonged to Massa-
chusetts and believed in Massachusetts politics and
Massachu'setts religion, just as thev haA'e till today.
They entered enthusiastically and unanimously into
the quarrel of their native state, and if Massachusetts
was jjoino; to war with Geor;xe III, thev were o-oins: to
war with him without one thought of the chances and
without waiting to know whether another colony or
another man was likely to back them.

"^Yhen the American revolution broke out about
eighty families made their home in the old town
of Machias. With them the first consideration had
been, not that proximity so convenient for schools, for
social visiting and the eas}^ communication which roads
and sidewalks afford, but a good site and plentj^ of
land, which should give a homestead for themselves
and their posterity. So with their two hundred and
fifty acre first division lots tiiey occupied both banks
of the river, from the sea and its branches, East, West

Vol. II. 2


and ^Middle rivers. The sixteen seven-acre lots of the
first mill-owners made the nucleus of tlie villaire.

A luinheriiig coinmuiuty work eiiergetlciillv at
stated seasons, but have many hours and davs of idle-
ness. "We can fancy these first settlers, followini;; a-
habit their children have never lost, gathered along
tlie mill brow on the north bank of tlie river and sit-
ting upon the great prostrate pines that here and tliere
skirted it, talking over the affairs of the nation. Two
coasters have lately got in from Boston. Captain Icha-
bod Jono^, the prosperous merchant, who owns the
vessels and a store, is too busy, perhaps too proud ;i
man, to spend much time with the loafers who are
whittling in their shirt sleeves. Bat the captain, of
the PolW, Jones' second trading sloop, is too full of
intelligence to lose the opportunity of opening his
budget before a crovrd of excited listeners. It is dif-
ficult to exaggerate the importance of the captain of
a coaster in those days. He was the newspaper, the
mail and the telegra])h, all combined. He brought to
the people the news, the fashions and the opinions, as
well as the hats and shoes they wore, and the bread,
pork, fisJi, and beans thej,^ subsisted upon. His advent
to the settlement, only a few times a year, must have
been a.n event important enough to draw toax-ther
from their scattered lots all the men of the colony.
They came to trade for goods, for which they were
always waiting, and to hear how the Boston people
were getting along in their quarrel with the king.
Getting along badly enough, they learned from the
sloop's captain. From resisting the Stamp Act and


llirowing- overboard the taxed tea it liad come to actual
%var. A tlKnisaiul men liad been marched into the
iutei'ior as far as Concord, Avhen tlie farmers of the
I'M'-k towns gathered at the bridge and began to fire
n})on tbem. The regnhirs retreated, and nnliiiainen,
coming up from all tlio country round, chased them all
(\:\y to Cliarlestown, l<ilUng and wounihng hundreds of
tJicm. Perliaps the Polly's captain was at Ch.arles-
town, and saw the bleeding, haggard and du-^ty rcd-
coafs straggliiig in under shelter of the ships. Per-
haps ]ie was in Boston tlie next day and saw tlie
wounded and stark corpses of the slain talvcn out of
tlie boats. It was great news to hear and great news
to tell ; let us believe he told it well.

It has been too much taken for granted b}' the local
liistorians that Captain Jones sided with the Tories in
the struggle for independence. If he did, it is difficult
to understand why Judge Jones, lii^ nephev\', who was
admitted into all his counsels, was such a zealous pa-
triot and republican. Captain Jones probably felt as
merchants general!}^ do when war, that interrupts all
their commerce and threatens destruction to all their
fortunes, impends. The difficulties with the home gov-
ernment he believed and hoped would be settled. Be-
side, he was in tlie enemy's power and liad to make
the best terms he could. lie wanted to extricate his
family and household effects, as well as his vessels,
from Boston, then in possession of the king's forces
under strict military law, and ho could only do so by
agreeing to take back in his vessels cargoes of lumber
lo ))e used in constructing barracks for the


troops, for wliicli he was to be fully paid. That he
stood well v.'iili tlie promoters of tlie revolution is ev-
ident from the fact that the selectmen of Boston fur-
nished him with a petition to the people of Machias,
desiring Ijiera not to hinder him in his enterprise. He
seems to have proceeded with the prudence character-
istic of his calling; for before opening his ]}atches and
offering hi> goods for sale he exacted from the people
a stipulation that they, on their part, would not molest
liim. He tried to get an obligation generally signed
by the citizens by which they were to bind themselves
to allow him to carry lumber to Boston and protect-
him and ]iis property. But this many of the people
refused to sign, and then, at his desire, a towji meet-
incc was called, which mus-t have been somewhat stormv.
At last a vote, not unanimous, was obtained to permit
the vessels to load and sail, and Jones began to open
his hatches and retail his goods to his old customers.
But it is said he made a discrimination, refusing credit
to those wlio had been prominent in obstructing his
wishes, so that on the whole there was more exaspera-
tion of feeling than hearty accord produced by the
vote of the town extorted under such circumstances.
But it is probable that the permission gianted in the
vote would have been carried out in good faith liad
not the captain of the Margaretta unnecessarily pro-
voked a quarrel with tiie inhalu'tants.

The Machias people had received notice in some
way through the proclamation of the Provincial Con-
gress that liostilities had commenced by an invasion into
the very heart of Massachusetts and by the slaughter


of itscitizenSjWlio had rosistedtlie evident attempt of the
Briiish government to deprive them of tlie Hberty and
right of self-government they had enjoyed ever since
their cokMiial charters. The Machias settlers re-
sponded to this proclamation with zeal and unan-
iiaity, and rai - ed a liberty pole to stand as a
s\'mbol of tlieir patriotism. Captain Moor, of the
Margaretta, when he learned that the liberty pole
had been erected and what it signified, ordered
it to be taken down, under the threat of firing npon
the town. A town meeting was beld and voted Avith
great spirit that the liberty pole should stand, but even
then Jones induced Captain Moor to withhold hostili-
ties until a fuller and larger town meeting, which he
promised should be held on the fourteenth of June, and
which should take final nction in the matter. In the
meantime ihe leading patriots, Jiuowing that the tovrn
would never yield the point, looked ]"ound to see what
means they had for defense and resistance.

There was then livino- at East Fiiver a sort of patri-
arch of the settlement, Benjamin Foster, the father of
a numerous family, and a man, through his long life,
of gi'eat consideration in both state and church altairs.
Tlie sixteen settlers of 1763 had brought his brother,
Wooden Foster, with them to be tlieir blacksmith —
an artisan indispensable in an isolated lumbering com-
munity, lie himself came in 1765, and, being a man
of substance and enterprise, took up a lot at East Fiver
and built the first sawmill there. At the time of the
event I am now reciting he was about fifty 3'ears of
age, and having been pi-esent as a soldier at the first cap-


lure of Loui.-bui :: in 17-io. and h:iviDcr servecl under Gen-
eral AUercroniijic in tlio French and Indian "war ten
years later. Ik wa.-^ probably the man of the largest
military ex^ierit-iioe in the whole settlement. As such
he was made lieutenant of the first militia compaiiv in
1769, Judge Jones being its captain. Foster was the
most prominent man in planning and organizing the
expedition tliat led to the capture of the Margaretta.
The sons of Morris O'Brien, six in number — one of
them. Colonel Jeremiah, the leader — ayou tlie re-
7iown of the actual capture.

Their counsels were divided. Foster was in favor
of ttiking possession of the now partly laden sloops
of Captidii Jone> and making prisoners of the ofncers
and men of the Margaretta, their convoy. More
timid men must have urged that tJie town had
voted to let the sloops be loaded and depart, and it
was only on that condition that they had procured
their supplies, and it was only by performing their
promise that they could expect to be kept from star-
vation tliereafter. But the coolness of Foster and the
impetuosity of the O'Briens overwhelmed all calcu-
lations of prudence. Foster, weary of the debate,
crossed a brook near which they were standing and
called out to all who favored the capture of the Mar-
garetta and the tv^-o sloops to follow him, and ulri-
mately every man stood by his side. This was Sunday,
the eleventh of June, 177o. Foster vras a devout,
but no doubt ho believed himself to be ens^aired in the
Lord's Imsiness oji that day.

A plan of attack was immediately agreed upon. The


Engli^-li oflicers would be nt mooling thai monilng. A
rude. Iniilding. twenty-five by foi't}- feet, had been built
(r.i (be site of the pre.-ent tcnvn hall and used for
public worship. It had benches arranged on each
side of a central aisle. It was decided to at-
tempt to surt'ound the church and seize the officers
during service. Part of the company remained
under Foster to do this at the proper conjuncture, and
the rest dispersed, attending church as worshipers,
thougli perhaps giving less heed than usual to the ser-
vices. The}^ had brought their guns and secreted them
outside the building. John O'Brien says he hid his
gun under a board and tooh his seat on a bench behind
Captain Moor, ready to seize him at the first alarm.
The day was warm and fine and the windows of the
little tabernacle were wide open. A singular accident
disclosed the dauirer of overlookinsr the ne2:ro element.
In our late 2:reat war we suffered everywhere delav,
disaster, and defeat by not taking the negro into our
counsels. Just so it happened to the Machias patriots.
I have no doubt Parson Lyon was fully possessed of
the plot his flock was engaged in. The able, highly
educated'and eccentric Parson Lyon was called as the
first settled minister at Machias, from Nova Scotia, and
like many other people of that province who after-
ward lied to the States, was a zealous Whig. There
were warlike sentiments in the old familiar psalms he
might have selected that morning without exciting the
suspicion of the English officers in their gay uniforms
and decorous demeanor. But London Atus, the ances-
tor of all the Atuses, the colored servant of Mr. Lyon,

8 mai>:e iiistoetoal society.

Ii;i(l not h^CYi lakcn into tlie confidence of the niilitaiv
leadors. In some perch of ;i neii'ro pew, with n better
outdoor view than the l)ody of the congregation, he
got sight of armed men — Foster's band — crossing a foot
bridge that connected two ishmds on the falls, and gi\-
ina; an t)utcrv, leaped out of the Avindow. The Enc^ -
lisli oliicers followed his example, and by tlie liine
Foster's force had reached the meeting-house they had
reached tlieir vessel and Jones, who A\as to have been
made a prisoner, had fled and secreted himself in the
woods. Capt.-iin Moor weighed anchor at once and
proceeded down the river. The excited public fol-
lowed on each bank of the river, keeping up a harass-
ing musketry; fire but at too long range to be danger-
ous, and shots were fired from the cutter. Fostei
and O'Brien then determined to seize Jones' sloops
and pursue the cutter. One of these — the Poll}' —
could not have been in a condition to be available.
Perliaps slie was already too heavily laden, but the
O'Brien's took possession of the Unity, Jones' other
sloop, and during the rest of Sunday mu'^tered a
crew of volunteers, num])ering in all about forty
men, and Foster went to the Uasi Elver to get a
schooner there and a volunteer crew to join in the

Early the next morning they proceeded dowji the
river from both villages. The F]ast River vessel got
a-ground and had no share in tlie battle. Of the party
on board the Unity only half had muskets and for
these there were only three rounds of ammunition-
The rest had armed themselves with pitchforks and nar-


vrw .-ixes. So sud'Jcn and iinpiilsivc had been the expodi-
ti.tii that 11]:) to this tiiiie it had been an unorganized
mob. But as, Avith a favoring wind, they sailed down
the river they had Leisure to complete their plans.
Jeremiah O'Brien, tlie oldest, of the brothers, was made
captain, and Edmund Steveiis, lieutenant. avA know-
ing they had no powder to waste in long shots they
determined to bear down on the enemy's ship, board
her and decide the contest at once upon her deck.

Nothing can be more beautiful than the aspects in
summer time of the trebly branching river and of the
estuary inclosed between sheltering islands and steep
and rocky cliffs that make its port. IIow much more
beautiiul it must have been before the ax had thinned
the forest, and fiies had bared tlie shores and islands,
not only of the ancient forest, but of the soil that
supported it, and left the Wanched, bleak rock to be
reflected upon the quiet surface of the sea, where the
inverted woods once spread their maru'in of o-reen !
Little eve had those stahvart youths for all that beautv ;
the splendor of their heroism has fairly outshone it alb
beautiful as it may have been.

Where was the East River schooner and its brave
commander ? These darii:!g volunteers did not know ;
they did not wait for her. Forty undisciplined men
are in chase of a vessel armed with .sixteen swivels
and four four-pounders, with a complement of men,
without any thought of the peril of their adventure.
The bravery at Lexington and Concord, where several
hnndre'l militiamen fired upon retreating regular.s
from behind trees, fences, and stone walls, or on Bunk-


er Hill, wlic-ro, miiiulv beliir.ii earthworks slicltcred
from -rhot, well-nnncvl nun resist cd three snccessive
assanlts oi' a line of battle, Vv'as certainly not (^-reater
than that. I clo not know of any feat in all the vrar,
or of ai\y. war, tliat ^or daring and desperate courage
can be compared with it.

As the sloop opened out into tlie broad river below
Macliiasport village the enemy thev were in pursuit of
came ia siu'ht and soon within hailino; distance. Moor
hailed tlie sloop and told her to keep off or he v.'ould
fire. O'Brien shouted back a demand for surrender,
and Stevens an emphatic defiance. Moor witliheld his
fire, and the breeze strengthening set all his sails and
tried to escape. It is easy to see that Captain Moor
owed the loss of his vessel and his life to his own hes-
itation — I cannot think to his cowardice.

"When he stood out to sea again the sloop was close
upon him and a collision had become unavoidable. So
he opened lire and killed one man on board the sloop.
The sloop answered with a volley of shot, and soon
afterward the vessels came together and John O'Brien
leaped on board the cutter. Then the vessels swung
apart, leaving O'Brien alone on the quarter-deck of
the enemy. He says seven muskets were fired at him
without effect, and Vv'hen the Ena'lish marines chartjed
upon hhn with bayonets he jumped over the rail and
swam to the sloop. Captain O'Brien next ran the
bowsprit of the sloop through the mainsail of the cut-
ter, and twenty of his men armed with pitchforks
rushed upon her deck. While in contact or at very
close range niusket shots had been exchanged, the


a-^. - ;ul;iiit< u-'uui: all their aiimmuitiun. Oiio irurn was
kili-.n], one mortally and one seriously wouuclod upon
tliu sloop. Five vrere killed or mortally womukul on
boarJ the r^Iargaretta — Captain ?>[oor, who was ^hot
thron;j:]i by two mnskei halls early in the aetion ;
the man at "the helm; Captain Robert Avery, and two'
sailors or marines. When the man at the lielm i'ellj
the cutter broachecl to and was thus run into. Cajitain
Robert Avery was the skipper of an American coas-
ter lying in Holmes Bay and had been forcibly seized
by Captain Moor and taken on board the cutter to act
as pilot out of the river. The numl)er wounded is not
kuov.ui. Joliii O'Ericn* says the American vessel had
four killed and eiiilit or nine wounded, and the Jnitish
ten kiiled and ten wounded. But he sa3\s liim-elf that
he does not remember the number, but gives it upon
the authority of a letter of Captain Joseph ^Vheaton,
written to O'Bi'ion, in v^dlich he claims to have been
present as one of the sloop's crew. Air. Smiidi in his
history, gives the name of Jolui Wheaton as one of
the heroes, mistalving the christian name which should
have been Joseph. I have followed Mr. Smith's state-
ment of the number of killed and wounded as more
probably correct and more nearly agreeing with local

* John O'Brien, who lived in Brunswick, Maine, the third
brotlier in rnnk of age in this famous family, in May, 1831, when
he was eighty-one years old, gave a detailed account of the taking
of the Alargarotta and of the exploits of the O'Briens in the Rev-
olutionary war. This account was taken down in writing and is
pulilished in Vol. 11 of the Maine Historical Society's collections,
page 212.


The erroj' by whicli Captuiu Moor {orfcilcu lii-.
vessel and his litV ^vas in not using his licavy friiiis
Avhile the sloop ^\"as at \on^ ranire and hiid no ofi•ecti^ e
means of rctui'ninLr ih.e hre. When ihe ^x^ssels Avert-
in cont;»et hi> superior armament liad become unava.ii-
ablc. l^he firing of the Americans ]jad been close and
murderous, and when Moor fell, the midshipman Still-
ingfleet, next in command was })anic-stric]ven and lied
below and gave up the sliij"). The Enulisb officers diil
not know that the ammunition of theii' enemy had
been exiiausted, and the assault was too iierce and hot
for the reloading of empty muskets. In a hand-to-
hand contest a pitcliforl; — not the slender and elasilo
implement our factories now turn out, but such a stouc
and rude double spear as V.'oodon Foster would forgo
upon liis anvllj set in a long ash pole — was a formid-
able w^eapon in the hands of a man who Knew liow to
use it. The very novelty- of the weapon, again :it
wdiicli tlieir tactics and drill had taugiit them no effec-
tive guard, may luive dismaj'ed the marines. At any
rate the boarding of the cutter seems to have been the
end .of the strife, and there was nothing else to do but
take care of the wounded, secure tiieir prize, and
return to the settlement to electrify their friends with
the nev^^s of their success. They had purchased their
victory by the death of two men — Coolbroth and
McNeil. Jolin Berry received a severe wound in his
head, for which he afterward received a pension, and
Isaac Taft and Joseph Cole were slightly wounded.
John O'Brien relates that as soon as his Ijrother Jere-
miah was elected captain he gave leave to all who

T)1'E C.\rTU]:r, of the ^fAKGATIETT.A. 13

were airai'l to ynu in llie attack to leave mkI otTored
tlieiii a boat, and that throe men availed themselves of
jus otfer. He also pays that the ^vliole six of tlie
O'Brieu b'-otliors — Jereniiali. Gisleoii. John, ^Yi]^ialn,
Dennis, and Joseph — participaLc\l in tlni aetion, and
that Morris C/Briei> his father was only prevented
from accompanyinLT them by tiie remonst ranees of his


Beside tliese. let us carefidly recapitulate among
the lieroes every name tliat tradition has preserved.
There w\as .Edmitnd Stevens of Addison, wdio shouted
back defiance when Moor threatened to fire ; Samitel
Watts, ancestor, I tliink, of the Engli-hnian's Jiiver
AYattses ; Jonathan Knight, one of the first settlers of
Calais, and who has descendants there ; Steele and
Merritt from Pk\i-ant River (the name is still preserved
in tha,t region) ; Josialt Weston, forefather of tiie
Jonesboro AYestons ; John Berry, Isaac Taft and J;ones
Cole, wdio were w^ounded ; Nathaniel Creclifortli, Jo-iali
Libby, Joseph Vv'heaton, William Fenderson, Ezekiel
Foster, son or grandson of Isaiah, brother of Benjamhi
called th.e colonel; Simeon Brown, Samuel AYhiiing,
Elias Hoyt and Joseph Getchell, ancestor of those
w^eli-esteemed people who have chiefly made their

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